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-   -   How low-end can you go? (

KlaymenDK 10-31-2003 09:40 AM

How low-end can you go?
Hello everybody.
I'm not sure whether to post this under Newbie, here, or somewhere different, but here goes...

First of all, I'm new to Linux, but fairly veteran in computing at large.
Second, I would like to run some sort of combined firewall and DHCP (and perhaps even print) server for my home LAN, and I'd like to know how far low-end I can reasonably go if I'm to run a Linux server with reasonable performance.

My currently available hardware (and I do plan to buy as little extra as possible) includes an old IBM PC300 6562-200 (200MHz Pentium) and an even older 486SL (an original SNI PCD-4L prototype, actually), both with 32megs of RAM.

Is this completely hopeless, or actually workable to some degree? If at all possible I would prefer to be able to use the 4L because it's fanless, but there are considerable drawbacks: it's got no cdrom, and it can't see hard disks over 540megs. So I've tried valiantly to make sense of Fli4L and a few other Linux-on-a-diskette distros, but haven't got enough skill to make anything work.

I've got broadband, and I plan to connect 2-3 computers on my LAN that should be able to play online games or listening to online radio, but I never do massive up/downloads (as in: media files). So, I would like to have a system that's responsive but not necessarily optimized for massive throughput.

Hopeless? Challenging? What are your Linux-on-a-diskette recommendations? I'm really looking forward to have you all laugh at me! :p


registering 10-31-2003 10:26 AM

I don't know the specifics of all the HW you mention, but I think what you're proposing is more than enough. We run a Pentium I 90 Mhz w/32 megs RAM at WORK, handling a full T1 connection, about 30 nodes, hosting several websites, 2 of them very interactive. We run RH 9.0. So I think the power you've got is more than enough.

One note: I see you run Drake: Drake only runs on Pentiums and up, so double-check your 486.

Good luck!

ToniT 10-31-2003 10:34 AM

If you have two network cards for your 486, i see no reason why this wouldn't work.

As an installation method i would install the system through network (either from internet or local network where other computer is having the contents of an installation cd).

As a distribution I would try to use debian with quite minimal installation. (though i haven't tested debian on a system that lowend, but in 586 it has worked fine.)

quest4knowledge 10-31-2003 02:16 PM

The last post has it dead on but I have experiance with almost the same hardware you have. My 1st linux box was a 486DX2 66Mhz with 32M RAM, 2 nics and about 400 megs of drive space. I used a minimal install of debian(which is great for low-end systems but for faster machines I prefer Gentoo.). This machine ran as a router/firewall, dhcp, and mail server with exim and qpopper.

This machine was able to handle a 1Mbit cable connection with ease and couldve done much more if id had more drive space for it. Good luck with your project, it shouldnt be much trouble.

synaptical 10-31-2003 02:52 PM

yah, no problem. the hardest part will be deciding whether debian, gentoo, or slack. :D

KlaymenDK 10-31-2003 04:34 PM

Thanks for all your responses. Wow!
I'm quite impressed about what you guys do with such hardware, and am really looking forward to trying this.

I have this copy of Debian lying here so I'll give that a try since I (apparently) want to avoid Mandrake. My biggest problem with Debian is, on my other systems it never could find my keyboard (slight obstacle there :rolleyes: ). And my Debian boot floppy asks for an FTP path, no idea what to give it (complete path to subdir, not just ftp site - argh I'm out of my league).

(Still, anyone with some input about single-floppy distros are welcome to post, though I can see already that there's a fair chance I'll end up using a hd).


ToniT 10-31-2003 07:58 PM

A path for what? basedebs.tar?
for drivers.tgz?

2damncommon 10-31-2003 08:16 PM

My home firewall is a Pentium 100 (or so) with 32 MB RAM (500 MB hard drive), my web server (check my www button below) is a Pentium (also around 100) with 64 MB RAM.
The firewall is running Smoothwall, currently.
The webserver is running a minimal Debian install.
I did a net install from the install floppies, but as it was a while ago I do not remember everything.
The website has useful documentation.

SpeedFreak03 10-31-2003 10:20 PM

Try coyote linux. I use it for my NAT box (Pentium 166) and it works great! I think u can use down to a 386 with it.

synaptical 10-31-2003 10:28 PM

or try libranet for a painless debian install. :cool: you can do a minimal and just get the base system, then update and add what you need with apt-get.

maroonbaboon 11-01-2003 07:20 AM

Single floppy firewall/router/gateway:

I've been using one of these for two years - zero failures, zero downtime. Does DHCP, DNS. Sounds similar to Coyote. Would be interesting to see a comparison.

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